Fabric Distraction


Lying in the semi-darkness of my Feldenkrais class this morning, I was following the arc of my hand as it moved from side to side above me. This easy, smooth movement, like most of the gentle actions in this class, is designed to bring awareness of the connections inside the body while improving flexibility and coordination. I usually find it wonderfully meditative, but today, each time I rolled to my right side, I kept noticing the unusual soft colors and subtle patterns of my neighbor’s shirt. I was like a bumble bee, incapable of ignoring a nearby flower! After class I complimented her, and we both had a laugh about my distraction. Her shirt had come from India, and the vegetal dyes have softened over the years yielding pale shades of blue and green. I’m always looking for color and form to capture through my lens, and though I usually look to gardens and landscapes for my inspiration, this reminded me how visually stimulating the colors, textures, and patterns of fabric can be. Artists have often been inspired by fabric—Matisse started accumulating fabrics at an early age and went on to collect textiles from all around the world that he used in his paintings. And though often overlooked, almost every world culture has a tradition of designing, weaving, or dying fabric into wearable art—from India to West Africa to Central and South America. So in late summer, as the flowers are fading, I am considering a visit to the Textile Museum. What better place to take my distractible bumble bee eye?